Illustrated Architecture Dictionary .................. Styles of Architecture

Shingle Style in Buffalo, New York
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Richardson's W. Watt's Sherman House

Richardson's Stoughton House

Coatsworth House, 16 Lincoln Woods Lane - a copy of Richardson's Stoughton House

Crane House, 420 Linwood Ave.

Fowler House, 412 Linwood Avenue

Carlton Sprague Summer House

42 Ashland Ave.

46 Ashland Ave

215 Lancaster

65 Bidwell Parkway


The term "shingle style" was popularized by Vincent Scully in the 1950s. It is sometimes referred to as the "seaside style." The shingle style is basically the Queen Anne style wrapped in shingles.

The Shingle Style had its genesis in the Boston area in the early 1880s. Over the next two decades it spread across the country, although it was favored for the rambling seaside estates and resorts of the New England coast. Like the Queen Anne style, the Shingle style was influenced initially by the work of the architect Richard Norman Shaw, but replacing his tile-hanging (PHOTO) by shingle-hanging.

Henry Hobson Richardson (1836-86) is credited with developing the style and used it for most of his country and suburban houses, as did many prominent architects. The pioneer building is the Sherman House at Newport, Rhode Island, by Henry Hobson Richardson (1874). McKim, Mead and White also participated. The masterpiece is Richardson's Stoughton House at Cambridge, Massachusetts (1882-3).

Shingle style borrows wide porches, its shingled surfaces, and asymmetrical forms from Queen Anne style, but practitioners opened up the interior space and made a lot fewer rooms; the rooms were a lot bigger, it was easier for light to penetrate the interior.

This architectural style is considered a Victorian era style because, like the British Victorians, reaction to the Industrial Revolution led to reexamination of the pre-Industrial Revolution past.


  • Two or three stories tall

  • Spreads low against the ground on a heavy stone foundation

  • Qualities of weight, density, and permanence are pronounced

  • Masonry is dark and roughhewn

  • Asymmetrical forms

  • Shingles were available in many colors, such as the Indian reds, olive greens and deep yellows, which were popular at the time

  • Shingles form a continuous covering, stretched smooth over roof lines and around corners in a kind of contoured envelope

  • Rounded contours sheltered by a broad and overhanging roof. The sweep of the roof may continue to the first floor level providing cover for porches, or is steeply pitched and multi-planed.

  • Entries are defined by heavy (often low) arches; columns are short and stubby

  • Wide porches

  • The eaves of the roof are close to the walls so as not to distract from the homogeneous and monochromatic shingle covering

  • Broad gables

  • Casement and sash windows are generally small, may have many lights, and often are grouped into twos or threes

  • The curving "eyebrow" dormer is distinctive

  • Interior: free-flowing plan

  • Interior: large rooms and porches loosely arranged around an open "great hall," dominated by a grand staircase.

  • Interior: staircases


  • Rachel Carley's "The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture," 1997
  • John J.-G. Blumenson's "Identifying American Architecture"
  • "The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture," 1991
  • Carole Rifkind's "A Field Guide to American Architecture,"  1980

It was born in New England but was popular in the Mid-Atlantic and influential in Chicago and, especially, on the West Coast. It’s informal and highly imaginative—a summer “cottage” style—nevertheless built for wealthy clients.

Shingle Style has variously been described as “the first modern American house style, “Richardsonian Romanesque done in shingles instead of stone,” “the first wave of the Colonial Revival,” and “a subset of the Queen Anne Revival.”

Shingle stlye variations:
Some examples are in the old English style of Richard Norman Shaw’s vernacular Queen Anne Revival in England. But many architect-designed and later examples are more obviously Colonial Revival, with classical porch columns and Palladian windows. The colonial motifs and extensive piazzas (porches) make them distinctly American. In most, public rooms are anchored by a huge living hall with a fireplace and an adjacent grand staircase.

 But certain hallmarks apply:
  • Wood shingle skin: Shingles wrap the house, undulating over oriels, corners, and eyebrow windows. You don’t find corner boards and a lot of fussy trim.

  • Asymmetry is evident, with cross gables and roof sections of different pitch, wings, turrets, bays and oriels.
Shingle Style Interiors

Wood paneling in main rooms is almost universal. In fine examples, it might be raised-panel mahogany to the ceiling. In other houses it’s oak, and in the simpler Shingle-influenced seaside or mountain cottages, battens or beadboard. Built-in window seats and staircase benches, or an inglenook by the fire, contributed to the informal, old cottage feeling.

Parlors might be done in European or Aesthetic Movement styles; the Colonial Revival formal dining room is a Shingle Style convention.

Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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